Hands up: Macclesfield (h)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

23 February 2010

Football cliché # 23 : Grimsby on a freezing windy Tuesday in February. They'll miss us when we're gone.

A couple of dozen Macc lads burned their bras to keep warm in the Osmond stand and the massed ranks of Mariners cuddled in their mufflers and long johns. The wicked wind swirled down the pitch and into the Pontoon, lifting many a careful combover.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: Colgan, Bore, Atkinson, Lankyshire, Widdowson, Coulson, Leary, Hudson, Devitt, Peacock, Wright. The substitutes were Overton, Linwood, Hegggggarty, Proudlock, Ak-Ak, Jarman and Chambers.

Macclesfield showed up their lack of professionalism by turning up in a kit that was clearly different from Town's. Pfft, these amateurs, it's embarrassing.

Clap your hands, stomp your feet and keep your hat and hair on.

First half: Clutching a handkerchief
The Big Maccs kicked off towards the Pontoon. Within seconds their Wright had fouled Bore and been melted by the mesmerising eyes of Lee Peacock. The referee gave them a free kick out wide just outside the area. Town fipped and flapped as Big Men jostled. A corner, a clearance, a corner a clearance: Town couldn't kick the ball out of their half. The wind blew the ball back and Big Macc didn't tip-toe through Town's tulips. They got on their combine harvester.

Colgan sliced, Colgan shinned and Leary was knocked out by Brown. Three minutes later Leary was slowly walked off the pitch and replaced by Ak-Ak. Peacock moved back to midfield and Lancashire sliced, Lancashire shinned and Brisley headed a corner over. Our Wright, the wrong Wright, failed.

Maccs shot left, Maccs shot right. Maccs shot lefter, Maccs shot righter. Colgan fly-kicked to them on their left, fly-kicked to them on their right and wobbled as a long, long, long-range shot sauntered to his feet. This was poor park football, with one team bigger than the other and the little ones unable to kick it far. It was like watching the tide come in. Every so often a larger wave swished towards Colgan, but he kept his feet dry, somehow.

Ah! Town attack. With passes, on the ground! Bore surged, his shot was blocked and follow-up block tackled. Ak-Ak barundled down the left. Hudson tickled, Widdowson winkled and Wright levered a shin volley a yard or so wide. Passing, that's all it takes. Passing.

Hoof, honk, Butcher slapped his thighs just over the bar. Honk, hoof, Butcher volleyed and Colgan sailed his silver surfboard to parry-punch aside quite splendidly. A bluebird sang from afar and Colgan stopped to shin-block as the ball skipped off the mud. Sappleton ambled and chipped Colgan, aeons after the whistle had blown. Don't walk away Renee! Too late. The big man was booked for time-wasting or having wax in his ears.

Maccs shot further left, Maccs shot further right. La-la-la-la love. La-la-la-la hate. Heartaches again. Colgan rolling in logs as the woodchopper arrived. How have Town avoided conceding a goal?

Hudson dinked a fashionable reverse pass beyond the Land of the Giants and Ak-Ak spindoodled nicely and thricely. The ball squirted to Coulson, who splished a low drive to the near post. The crowd rose to acclaim the goal, but Brain got on his bobsleigh and superbly pushed aside. Ak-Ak retrieved, crossed and Brain again fingertipped off the Hudson's head, the ball bounding out the edge of the area. Devitt cut in to his left foot and smackerooned high into the near side of the goal. That's nice, and beautifully undeserved too.

Town spun the silkymen a merry jig for five minutes. Coulson slashed a shot straight at Brain, Peacock slimped a cross just beyond everyone and The Wrong Wright, and finally Peacock sliced wide. Town began to look good, passing, moving and keeping the ball on the ground. It was and is the way forward.

It began to sleet and the referee decided to change his mascara. Half time.

Town were collectively and individually awful for 40 minutes, totally incapable of fending off the Big Maccs with their big balls, and totally incapable of even kicking the ball any distance with any accuracy. Colgan and Lancashire were having an attack of the shinny wobbles; they'd forgotten their medication. Macclesfield dominated through sheer will and Town were just too dumb.

A lucky lead and the wind behind us. The rusting ship of state was set fair for landfall after six months all at sea. We're talking about Town?

Second half: Quietly turning the back door key
No changes were made by either side at half time.

Ooh, a Bore waffler. Oo-ooh, Coulson spliced low and Brain made an excellent one-handed flip save on the line as the ball emerged into view at the very last moment. Plump up yer cushions, this is lovely. Ak-Ak rocked and rolled under the Findus with his pipe cleaner legs cuffing Brown, who cuffed him back. Corners and crosses were suggestions of action, implying danger, but in the end the shopkeeper disappeared and Town were left wearing a clown costume forever and ever and ever and ever.

Ak-Ak hooked a little silkworm twenty or so yards out from goal and Macclesfield were given a free kick on the centre-right. A wall was wattled and daubed and Colgan stood way over to the left. Butcher waited, waddled and lofted a slow curler towards the top left corner. Colgan stood, turned his body, kept his arms beside his thighs, hopped, hoped and joined the crowd in watching the ball drop into the net. Football cliché #76: "He'll hold his hands up to that one." Butcher had scored, Town were floored.

From that moment Town players wilted like spinach, one by one. Bore imploded after missing a crossing chance, Lancashire managed to get worse, Widdowson dawdled and diddled, Wrong-Wright ceased to exist and the four Town midfielders ware quiet but not effective against five clattering cheeseburgers.

Allez vite! Ak-Ak chiselled a dink across the face of goal and Coulson chased as it bumbled away. He caught up with it, turned and crossed watching as the Pontoon watched four Townites watched the ball drift across the face of goal a couple of yards out as the defence watched them watching us watching you. No-one slid or pushed, or fought to reach the ball. They just watched with pre-disappointment on their faces.

Zut alors! Ak-Ak wiggled and wriggled through the wall of blue steel to poke firmly. Brain raised his fists and instinctively parry-pinched the ball back out, straight against a defender's gentleman's particulars. The ball plopped back to the keeper.

It was horrible to watch, all shapeless, shiftless humping and lumping from Town. Les Big Maccs at least humped and lumped with shape and some shift. Sappleton tootled away and coiled from the right corner of the penalty area. Colgan leapt and licked the ball away with the very tips of his fingers. They had more corners; Town disintegrated into a blob around the halfway line. And then Devitt scored, but was offside, so the referee booked him. Where are we going with this? Nowhere.

Ak-Ak juggled brilliantly through three tackles and fell over as he tried to volley from a dozen yards out. Left foot you see, his left foot is a stranger on the shore. Devitt triple pirouetted through their left and Town got a corner. Devitt double twisted and won a corner. Nothing happened. Devitt slowly limped a free kick towards the near post; Brain kept his arms by his thighs and caught it. That's it, that's the difference between Town and everyone else. They cheat terribly by having goalkeepers who do saves. Disgraceful.

Proudlock and Jarman replaced limping Peacock and absolutely limp Wrong-Wright. Macc had another shot, which Colgan weirdly pooper-scooped away, and Jarman lunged studs up at Hessey. After a game of shove ha'penny Hessey was booked and Jarman was sent off. Football cliché #53: "You can't raise your hands any more."

Then we went home.

There is nothing to take away from this. It was rotten weather, a rotten game and a rotten performance. Town were lucky to draw yet were stupid to not win. Their keeper was better than our keeper. There you are, that's why it was a draw.

So Town did, after all, find another way of avoiding victory - it wasn't luck, opposition skill or the incompetence of officials, but simply ourselves. We got ourselves in this mess, we can therefore get ourselves out of it. We did last year, and look what happened at this same point last year. The darkest hour was just before dawn.

It's getting very dark indeed.